Initial numbers from Seattle’s safe gun storage law are in … sort of

Oct 2, 2019, 2:57 PM | Updated: 4:05 pm
washington gun violence, gun storage, safe gun storage...

The Seattle City Council passed a safe gun storage bill in 2018 which required a series of reports to track its progress. While some information has arrived on time, city officials will have to wait a bit longer than expected for the rest — about two years.

Seattle defines what ‘safe gun storage’ means under new rules

A few initial points of information can immediately be garnered from an October 2 City Council memo. For example, in 2017, 344 guns were reported as stolen to the Seattle Police Department. Also, during 2017 in Seattle:

  • Firearm suicides accounted for 70 percent of gun deaths among Seattle residents.
  • The firearm suicide rate in Seattle is three times higher than the firearm homicide rate.
  • There were no firearm deaths among Seattle youth under 18 years old during this time, and one non-fatal firearm hospitalization.
  • A total of 44 percent of non-fatal firearm hospitalizations were assaults.
  • Out of the non-fatal firearm hospitalizations, 40 percent were unintentional.

So far, the numbers only cover 2017 in Seattle. Also included in the report is information about firearm deaths and non-fatal hospitalizations:

City of Seattle

The report posted October 2 is the first report required by Seattle’s safe storage ordinance. The city rule requires gun owners to safely store their firearms. It also requires them to report stolen guns, and implements fines if an owner’s gun is used in a crime, even if it is stolen. The City Council unanimously passed the safe storage regulation in July 2018.

Waiting for safe gun storage data

Reports are required over a five-year period to document gun-related hospitalizations and deaths in the city, including figures involving youth. The reports are also to provide numbers on how many guns are reported stolen to the Seattle Police Department.

But while there is some information available to establish a baseline (reflecting figures from before the city implemented the law), other required information may not be so quickly obtainable.

Study: Most Washington gun owners do not safely store firearms

As the memo to the council states, other agencies collecting data for more up-to-date reports will take longer than the council anticipated.

“(Public Health – Seattle King County) indicated that they cannot obtain and process firearm-related hospitalizations and death data from Washington State Department of Health that covers the first year after the ordinance’s effective date (after August 17, 2018) until June or July 2021,” the memo states.

The “data lag” is due to a handful of reasons. It takes more time for officials to obtain out-of-state information on death certificates for residents who die outside of Washington. It is also noted that state agencies work on a calendar year, which does not align with the ordinance that begins in August 2018.

Therefore, reports initially expected one year, will actually arrive about two years late:

  • 2017: Baseline numbers provided Oct. 2, 2019
  • 2019 report expected in the third quarter of 2021
  • 2020 report expected in the third quarter of 2022
  • 2021 report expected in the third quarter of 2023
  • 2022 report expected in the third quarter of 2024
  • 2023 report expected in the third quarter of 2025

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Initial numbers from Seattle’s safe gun storage law are in … sort of